Heidi Vinge is a researcher at Ruralis – Institute for Rural and Regional research, Norway where she works with topics relating to agriculture and natural resource management. She recently submitted her PhD thesis in Sociology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology where she investigated the relationship between knowledge and power in farmland politics and planning.
Farmland is an increasingly scarce resource on a global level. Still, conversion of farmland to urban purposes is increasing on all continents due to development pressure and urban sprawl. A range of policies exits which targets soil sealing, with greenbelt policies among the most recent and seemingly most successful approaches. However, a critical factor is their dependency on the changing political climate. Building on an in-depth empirical case study of a land use conflict in the city of Trondheim, this paper will lay out the workings of specific power – knowledge configurations at work on the political arena that in an intricate but effective way disempower preservation of farmland. The paper will also show how these configurations are deeply embedded in structures of climate change mitigation measures and neoliberal ideals. Building on these empirical and theoretically informed insights, the paper will eventually make the case for increasing the status of rigorously performed and empirically rich case studies in a problem driven social science to inform more open and just decision making on complex societal issues such as land.